Mesopotamia: The Invention of the CityPaperback
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- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
- Format: Paperback | 400 pages
- Dimensions: 130mm x 196mm x 20mm | 299g
- Publication date: 24 June 2003
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0140265740
- ISBN 13: 9780140265743
- Illustrations note: 16 illustrations, maps
- Sales rank: 124,652
Situated in an area roughly corresponding to present-day Iraq, Mesopotamia is one of the great, ancient civilizations, though it is still relatively unknown. Yet, over 7,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, the very first cities were created. This is the first book to reveal how life was lived in ten Mesopotamian cities: from Eridu, the Mesopotamian Eden, to that potent symbol of decadence, Babylon - the first true metropolis: multicultural, multi-ethnic, the last centre of a dying civilization.
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GWENDOLYN LEICK is an anthropologist and Assyriologist. She is the author of various publications on the Ancient Near East, including A Dictionary of Near Eastern Mythology and Sex & Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature. She also acts as a cultural tour guide in the Middle East, lecturing on history, archaeology and anthropology.
"As Leick convincingly shows, Mesopotamian antiquity has as much interest as, and even greater importance than, Egypt; and her welcome book helps redress the balance of knowledge in its direction."
It was in Mesopotamia, a region broadly encompassing present-day Iraq, that the first human settlements and agriculture systems took root some 10,000 years ago. It was in this part of the globe that the Assyrian, Babylonian and Sumerian peoples developed the first urban civilisations, whch lasted until the first centuries AD. Here, then, is to be found the cradle of the modern world, characterised by stratified social and gender hierarchies, organised religion, autonomous political units, bureaucracy and written records, economic specialization and long-distance trade. Much research has been done into Mesopotamian culture since the mid-19th century and a great deal very recently, employing new archaeological techniques and current anthropological theory. Yet, as Leick points out in this learned and stimulating book, little of it has been communicated to a wider audience and the details of Mesopotamian civilisation remain far less salient in our consciousness than impressions of ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome. She takes in turn ten of the best excavated cities of this place and period and analyses their distinctive contribution to urban life and the development of human society as it can be inferred from fragmentary material and textual remains. Her excellent concluding chapter on Babylon, a seminal metropolitan environment, reveals just how much of what we now take for granted was anticipated four millennia ago. (Kirkus UK)